Heading for Lisboa

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 10 Aug 2014 20:29
The weather remains settled with very light winds from the north / north-west, giving us very pleasant sailing and our Portuguese, somehow, is improving and we no longer feel as daunted by the pronunciation. We have therefore continued to day-sail down the coast rather than leap to Lisboa in a oner. 

We stopped for the night in the marina at Figueira de Foz, a town built around a modern commercial harbour. The city front looks very grand with a nice park, wide avenues and well kept buildings but the supermarket is very basic and there is clearly not a lot of money around.

We were dining in the cockpit when we noticed that our neighbour, a British yacht, was flying the Italian rather than the Portuguese flag! Franco went round to inform the crew discretely as this is a finable offence. The skipper blamed Albert the cadet, his 8 year old son! I had been very impressed with Albert who had passed me the mooring line very professionally when we helped them tie up alongside.

The next stop was Nazaré, famous for the biggest wave (30 metres tall) ever surfed. (It's on you-tube if you are interested.) We inadvertently sailed exactly past the spot where the wave occurs but it was flat calm (phew!). This wave is a hydrological phenomenon and is powered by swell rather than storms, it is the combined effect of three natural features; Nazaré is on a very deep underwater canyon, as the swell comes in the wave travels faster over the deep water than over the shallower ground either side, this 'bends' the wave, increasing its height. At this point it hits a headland, again increasing the height. Finally as it approaches the shore it meets the long shore drift current trying to get back out to sea along the headland and this further increases the height creating a monster wave as tall as the lighthouse!

We had hoped to anchor but there was a bit of swell which would have been enough to make the night uncomfortable so we headed into the marina and spent the following day in Nazaré. We recognised some of the other yachts as anyone travelling south will be stopping in the same ports as us, given the difficult nature of the Portuguese coastline.

Nazaré is a small booming holiday resort popular with French tourists and built around a traditional town. The elderly ladies wearing black frocks and head scarves remind me of the Algarve, a sure sign that we are moving slowly south. They sit around gossiping or playing cards while others sell dried fish along the beach promenade, among the squeaky toy dogs and flip-flops stalls.

We walked to the lighthouse on the headland and tried to imagine a winter wave 30 metres high. I would love to see it but it makes me feel slightly queasy.

This photo is taken from the lighthouse at approximately 30m above sea level

Not wanting to be outdone, the fishermen have invented their own extreme sport: altitude fishing!

Fishing from the cliffs 45-50m above sea level! (the first fish ever reported with altitude sickness)


Our friend Steve, who lives in Portugal. told us that 50% of energy used in Portugal is generated from windpower - truly impressive. The UK target for all renewable energy is 15% but had only achieved 4.2% by end of last January. The other figure we have heard a few times is that 60% of energy is wasted, if this wastage could be reduced, then Portugal could be 100% self-sufficient from wind! We have seen wind turbines, never in vast numbers and always close to urban settlements, they are huge though.

Wind turbine scale: the ground vegetation in the photo is mature pine!

A short day's sail to Peniche gave Franco time to do the 50 hours service and make the first oil change on the new engine.

We anchored just outside the breakwater and were soon joined by three other boats (I have a theory that anchoring is catching and that if one boat is anchored, others are likely to follow rather than head for the marina).

We spent the next two days in fog so got on with some jobs. Franco is working on a sea kayak guide to south-east England and the Channel Islands and I finally got round to making the cover for the windlass (the anchor winch).

The new windlass cover

On the second day we walked into Peniche. Noteworthy was the smell of fish from the fish oil factory, it seemed to dominate the landscape and was hard to ignore. Along the cliffs small houses have been built onto the rock itself, there is also a large well-preserved fort which served as a prison for political objectors to Dictator António Salazar's regime. In the supermarket the cheese had electronic tags, a desirable item for thieves?

Fog again this morning, it eventually cleared around lunchtime so we set off. The promised breeze did not materialise and we ended up motoring the whole way to Cascais 38:41.8N 9:25.15W (our longest motor to date). We dropped anchor off the town beach among many other boats, including our friend 'Ghost'. From here we will catch the train to Lisboa.

Jennifer, our wind turbine, working hard.

Cascais anchorage